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Calming Things to Do in Busy Cities

We know there are questions around travel amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Read our note here.

More than half of the world's citizens lived in cities in 2016. By 2030, urban regions will house at least 60% of the global population according to the United Nations. Although the fast-paced life might be appealing to some, it can be overwhelming for others. If you live in a busy city or are planning to vacation in one, here are four calming things to do for relaxation.

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Experience the Arts

Digital illustration of an art museum
Illustration by Alisyn Schmidt

Everyone can benefit from visiting an art museum. It's an excellent way to reduce anxiety and improve cognitive function. Bustling cities like Los Angeles and Philadelphia boast world-class art museums. In fact, Los Angeles is home to the largest art museum on the West Coast — the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The museum's "Urban Light" exhibit features 202 historic street lamps dating from the 1920s and 1930s.

In Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Museum of Art has more to offer than its iconic appearance in the 1976 "Rocky" movie. For example, you can explore its recreations of architecture from around the world or take a stroll through its extensive sculpture garden. In all, art museums can add to our cultural intelligence, stimulate our senses, and improve our sense of well-being.

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Bring the Spa Experience Home

Digital illustration of a spa environment
Illustration by Alisyn Schmidt

Sure, we've all thought about taking a holiday spa weekend on occasion. However, busy schedules often stop many of us from enjoying one. Thankfully, mobile massage therapists can travel to your home, office, or hotel room. There are multiple massage networks you can order a massage through such as Zeel, Soothe, and Body Well. Each app services a large number of cities so you won't have a lack of options. Massages are a wonderful way to alleviate both physical and mental stress. Some massage therapists also specialize in aromatherapy, which boasts many health benefits.

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Seek Out Nature

Digital illustration of mountains and a river
Illustration by Alisyn Schmidt

City parks are a great place to enjoy the beauty nature affords. Sure, you might not have the space or time for a personal garden, but you can still pay a visit to a botanical garden. Diverse collections of colorful plant life can maximize your visual enjoyment. If you're looking for a garden to visit, the enormous Chicago Botanic Garden is one of the largest public gardens in the world. It boasts 2.5 million plants on 385 acres of land. Most of its 27 gardens are located on one of nine islands.

Interestingly enough, Phoenix is also home to one of the most unique botanical gardens. It's called the Desert Botanical Garden and is located on 140 acres. It also contains over 50,000 plants including some of the largest collections of cacti and agave in the world. If a tropical paradise is more your style, check out the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in Coral Gables, Florida. This garden is located on 83 acres of land and hosts some of the rarest tropical plants on earth. They include rare philodendrons, orchids, and pentagonias.

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Sit Back and People Watch

Digital illustration of a person on a bench watching others, with a cityscape in the background
Illustration by Alisyn Schmidt

Want to enjoy a calming activity? If so, sit down and watch the world go by. It might sound a bit unconventional, but observing people going about their daily lives can be a soothing experience. If you'd like to be more surreptitious, find a local coffee shop or café that overlooks a busy street. There, you can enjoy a beverage or meal as you exercise your powers of observation. People watching can be an entertaining pastime. The heart of any city is its inhabitants and their constant motions invite interest. This is a calming activity that will yield fascinating insights long after your day is over.

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